A Story A Day: Part 2

**This is a continuation from my previous post**


I spent my Tuesday morning putting together my presentation. The seminar series I participated in sources its speakers by assigning students, trainees, and postdocs one day a year where they are required to present their work in front of other researchers working in stem cells or regenerative medicine. Normally, only about a dozen people show up but, it seems the entire group of ~40 people came down to hear my talk.

I’m convinced that people don’t attend more often because it’s a 12-1PM seminar that doesn’t provide food. As a poor graduate student, anything required in the noon hour but doesn’t provide any sustenance should be considered cruel and unusual punishment. To rectify this, I brought homemade shortbread cookies decorated with random patterns (holiday-themed, science/math-themed, polka dots, etc.) for attendees to consume.

I sped through my presentation because people, who I needed to wait for, were running late and I needed time to get across campus for my class at 1PM. Thankfully, both the presentation and the cookies went over well, I got some good feedback, and the higher-ups in our department seemed to be impressed by the work (judging based on the number of faculty who stayed after to speak with my PI about the project).


My passport was ready Tuesday afternoon, but I didn’t have time to make it downtown between my presentation, class, and dinner plans with a friend. Instead, I went into the city Wednesday morning, waiting until rush hour had subsided, to pick up my new proof of legality. While waiting in the lobby, I received an email congratulating me on receiving the 2018-2019 Steve Lasher and Janiece Longoria Graduate Student Research Award in Cancer Biology from my graduate school. This award is typically given in recognition of a student whose research aims to improve the knowledge or treatment of leukemia and other blood cancers. As someone whose work could lead to a new cell therapy source for many different blood cancers, my work qualified.

I had applied for several scholarships/fellowships through my graduate school at the end of October but, as a second-year student, I truly did not expect to receive anything. To say the least, the award was a surprise and an honor. I sent a letter of gratitude to the sponsors of the award and hope to meet them sometime in the spring to tell them about my research.

While mentally processing my award notification, I was given my new passport and forced to drive home while still in moderate shock. I had planned to stay home Wednesday to finish my Bioinformatics final, ultimately a very good idea because I could process everything from the morning at home on my couch. I find it much easier to process unexpected information while laying on my couch.

**Continued on A Story A Day: Part 3**

A Story A Day

As the end of the semester, this past week included unexpected adventures, unavoidable hurdles, and delightful surprises. In its culmination last night, I knew I needed to write everything down to make sense of it all and thought I might share it with anyone vaguely interested/willing to listen. My next few posts, which will be posted periodically over the coming few days, are a brief account of what happened this past week.


I had spent the majority of the day working on my Bioinformatics final project. As is common, I had dinner with my parents that evening and on the way back to our cars, my mother reminded me to find my passport for vacation the following week. In the back of my mind, I had known that I needed to find this document, but had kept shoving it down the back of my mind as something to deal with later. Suddenly, “later” became “a week before we leave”.

After returning home, I checked my usual important document storage place in my house but didn’t find my passport there. It sank in quickly that I truly had no idea where it was, but denied this fact for the next hour by going through my entire house in the feeble hopes that the little voice in the back of my head was wrong. It wasn’t.

I texted my mother, admitting my faults, who then sent me the information for two different local services touting a very fast turn around time for individuals seeking a passport at the last minute (i.e. 24 hour turn around, compared to the 8 weeks required by the federal government). I chose between these services and sent off my information to be reviewed at the start of business Monday morning.

The fact that I stayed relatively calm throughout the evening truly shocked me, but I’m thankful I was able to keep a level head.


The morning started off normal with my weekly meeting with my advisor, who I told of my passport woes and seemed far more worried about it than I was. We quickly went through my lab business of the week: data I couldn’t yet explain, experiments I needed to rerun after the holidays, and the rundown of the presentation I was to give to our colleagues the following day.

Soon after, my father came by the lab to drop off my birth certificate, so I roped him into chauffeuring me around downtown so I didn’t have to take these all-too-important documents on public transportation. One of the advantages to my father being retired is that he’s a softy, and now has the time help me out with whatever I need, of which I take full advantage.

We went by the civil courthouse downtown and I took care of my business inside while my father drove around for a few minutes because parking was scarce. There should really be more signs around the courthouse directing visitors because the unfortunate men sitting at the security desk seemed very annoyed with having to give the same directions to newcomers every day. After finishing there, we dropped off the remaining paperwork with the magician who could get my new passport within 24 hours. It turns out the the U.S. State Department contracts out the ability for companies to make a certain number of passports a day. Those desperate enough (which I was) can utilize their services for the hefty price of $500+, including federal and local fees.

**Continued on A Story A Day: Part 2**